Previewing the Los Angeles Kings’ 2012-13 season:
Game 48 vs. San Jose, April 27, 2013, 7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST)
After 47 games, the end of the regular season comes down to Saturday night for both clubs as the Los Angeles Kings play host to their division rivals the San Jose Sharks in a contest with quite a bit at stake.
While both teams have already clinched playoff spots, where they will finish in the West and thus who they will play in the opening round of the playoffs has yet to be determined. Both the Kings and Sharks are tied for fifth in the West with 57 points each. But if both teams want home-ice advantage, they are going to need some help as the fourth-place St. Louis Blues (who have 58 points) host the league-best Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday just two-and-a-half hours between Los Angeles and San Jose drop the puck. So, while the Kings look to get home-ice advantage for the first time since 1992, they’re not particular on who they face to open the playoffs. Right now, they will be playing either San Jose, St. Louis or the Vancouver Canucksin what could be an exciting (granted hypothetical) 2012 first-round rematch.
But back to the game itself. Like their previous two opponents, the Kings face a team where the home side has won each meeting this season. The Sharks hold a 2-1 advantage over the Kings in 2013 with their most recent win coming in their last meeting, a 3-2 win in San Jose on April 16. With that said, the Kings enter the final day of the regular season boasting a home record of 18-4-1 which is good enough for third overall behind the Blackhawks and, you guessed it, the Sharks.
Should the Kings make themselves the best scenario heading into the playoffs, they will need to contain both Logan Couture (six points in his last four games) and Joe Pavelski (four points in his last four) as well as Patrick Marleau who, like the aforementioned, always plays well against Los Angeles.
While Anze Kopitar has just one goal in his last 18 outings, the Slovenian does have nine assists in his last 11 games. Captain Dustin Brown unfortunately will not be in the lineup as he is serving the second of his two-game suspension.
After getting the night off last game, netminder Antti Niemi will be back in the San Jose goal on Saturday night but does boast a less-than-spectacular 3.74 goals-against average in his last six games against the Kings. Nevertheless, Los Angeles cannot afford to take this stat too seriously as they should expect all the Sharks to bring their A-game on Saturday night.
It’s been a drama-filled fall followed by an abbreviated but exciting season and before the “real” season starts, we must enjoy this final tune-up to begin at Staples Center at 7:30pm PST (10:30pm EST). Should be good.
Enjoy the game!